The Hipness of Jesus Christ: Why the God of Christianity is Cool in Modern Culture

Jesus is not my “homeboy”, but He is pretty cool.

It seems that while growing up in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the name of Jesus wasn’t really common (or acceptable) in mainstream entertainment.  Maybe it’s the fact that we as a nation are more aware now of the infiltration of different religions such as Islam in recent years, so we’re becoming more outspoken about Jesus than we used to be.  Because if we still are indeed a “Christian nation”, it’s Jesus we would need to be down with.

I do believe that the name of Jesus will always be offensive in the sense that He is the main factor that separates Christians (Protestants, Catholics, Messianic Jews, etc.) from other religions, including Judaism, as well as distinguishing those who simply “believe in God or a higher power” (theists).  However, I believe we are at a point in history and culture where “Jesus awareness” is at an all time high.

From Carrie Underwood’s 2005 number one hit, “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, to Kanye West’s 2004 hit “Jesus Walks”, which only peaked at #11, but saw great commercial and critical success, to Mel Gibson’s (yes, he has gone crazy since then) 2004 movie, The Passion of the Christ, which become the 8th highest grossing movie of all time (at the time), the highest grossing R-rated movie ever, and the highest grossing non-English movie ever, America continues to prove that even in our desired choices of entertainment, Jesus is in demand.

Whether or not the average American truly believes and trusts that Jesus is the Son of God, it’s safe to say that the average American has at least a basic understanding that Jesus was put to death on a cross to redeem the sins of mankind, past and present.  And that He came back to life three days later.  And that during his lifetime, He performed all kinds of miracles, like walking on water, healing blind men, speaking dead people into existence, and feeding thousands of people from just a couple fish and loaves of bread.  Whether or not the average American believes all this to literally be true, they at least are familiar with these basic concepts.

Even if to the average skeptic, Jesus is nothing more than a respectable movie character played by forgettable non-Jewish actors with blue eyes, this black sheep of the Jews ultimately puts us all in a position to whether we have to either recognize Him as the savior of mankind, or dismiss Him as either a good intention or completely irrelevant to life.  Either Jesus is who He said He is (God), or He’s not.  Either we associate Him with the meaning of life and the afterlife, or we don’t.  And especially in modern America, we have so been made aware of who He is at this point; it’s just a matter of what we do with that knowledge.

I’ve thought about it, and honestly, even apart from the fact I truly believe Christianity is the answer to all our “meaning of life questions”, and that out of all the religions, it’s Christianity that is the “right one” for me (because let’s face it, out of all the religions in the world, only one can be right in the end when we die, so it’s important to pick one and stick with it while we’re still alive), apart from all that, even if I wasn’t a Christian, I still would vote Jesus as the “coolest god”.

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (not a man) and a virgin.  Right off, that’s so scientifically impossible.  So I like it.  He never sinned; which is spiritually impossible.  I like that too.  His first miracle was turning water into wine at a really nice wedding. Cool.  He instantly stopped a really bad storm out at sea by saying, “peace, be still”.  The fact that Jesus went against the rules of nature is a major selling point for me.

Jesus came in the form of a Jewish man, who pretty much was a hippie type, who rebelled against the established religious culture of His day, challenging them to show their love for God to be authentic by taking care of the poor, the widowed, the unloved, and the sinners.

And based on the unproportionally high number of popular American Jewish actors and writers who we make rich in the name of entertainment, and based on the fact that just as many Jews who actually live in Israel who live in America (both Israel and America each contain about 40% of the world’s Jewish population), I’d say we Americans are known for embracing the Jews, whereas so many nations throughout history have rejected (understatement) them instead.

According to Christian belief, Jesus Christ is coming back to Earth to set up His millennial kingdom, in which all of us who believed in Him get to be a part of.  The way I see it, Jesus is not only the real deal; He just happens to be pretty cool too. But at the end of the day (and our lives), we will have made it clear through our words and actions just how relevant Jesus is to us personally.  And no matter how hip or popular (or uncool or unpopular) He may seem, we still choose in this life how important He is to us, for eternity.

“1985 I missed a plane, which then disappeared, never seen again.  You came to me Jesus, stood right in my way. You flew down from Heaven to save me again. Hallelujah, hallelujah.” -excerpt from “Stay with Me, Jesus” by Guster


Unnecessary Bonus…

Classic Books that Americans Love which were Written by Jewish Authors:




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I am the Human Spell Check

Bring me your misspelled words and incomplete sentences.

In school, I never studied for spelling tests (at least I never needed to) and I always got a “104” (perfect score plus I got the “challenge words” right as well).  The English language, as random and pieced-together as it is, has always made sense to me.  I wasn’t too bothered with the fact that the word “know” has a silent “k” (originally it was pronounced).  Nor was I ever really annoyed with the “I before E except after C” rule.

Somehow I’ve made sense out of the consistent inconsistency of our junkyard Spumoni language, borrowed mainly from our European ancestors- and also surprisingly from Yiddish, the universal language of the Jews, being that there are almost exactly the same number of Jews living in America as there are in Israel; accordingly, the United States has the 2nd highest Jewish population in the world.  Examples of adopted Yiddish words – bagel, klutz, schlub, schmooze, schmuck, shtick, schnozzle, tush, schlong.

And I’m convinced that my love of words has a lot to do with why I don’t really have a Southern accent, despite only living in the South (AL, FL, VA, TN).  Because I know how words are supposed to sound.  It’s not “ahss”, it’s “ice”.  It’s not “Toeyohduh”, it’s “Toyota”.  To speak in any distinct accent would be to stray from the standard American way of speaking.  I’m overaware of the way I pronounce words- only in rare occasions does a hint of Alabama come out of me.

I am the person in any given room who people ask, “How do you spell ‘initiate’”?  Then immediately, the word pops up in a translucent white font outlined in black, in my head.  I am that guy.  That can always save the day in times of a spelling crisis.  In college, I was the guy that all my dorm mates would bring their papers to for me to correct them the night before they were due.  And not only was it fun for me, but I took pride it doing it.

The downside of being a human spell check: I’m horrible at math and science.

The irony of writing about being a human spell check: I misspelled the word “spell check” in the title for this post by combining two words as one.  The real spell check caught it for me.

For a similar post by a similar but different writer, read http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/05/12/99-grammar/.

Why the Word “Dutch” is So Confusing to Us English Speaking People

Who are the Dutch people?  What country do they come from?  Are they the same as the Danish?

It’s time to set the record straight.  The best way for me to learn this is to teach it.  So here it goes.  Let’s go Dutch.

The Dutch are an ethnic group of people who live all over the globe, yet 81% of the population of The Netherlands is Dutch.  So in essence, the Dutch home base is The Netherlands.  This is similar to the way that the homeland of the Jews (who are also referred to as Hebrews) is the nation of Israel, though just as many live in the U.S. as Israel itself. 

However, unlike the Jews originating in Israel, the Dutch did not necessarily originate from The Netherlands; they have somewhat of a mysterious origin, like the Thai people who migrated from China.  In other words, Holland is the home base of the Dutch, not their homeland.

Here are some stats:

13.1 million Dutch people live in The Netherlands

5.1 million live in The United States

5 million live in South Africa

1 million live in Canada

In English, we use the word “Dutch” as both an adjective and a noun.  For example, it could be used to describe a pair of those weird wooden shoes or the Dutch people themselves.  However, in the Dutch language and most other language, there are separate words for the Dutch people and the Dutch adjective.  This is difficult to process because typically we’re used to adding an “s” on the end of word referring to the people group.  For example:  “I see a bunch of Italians eating Italian ice.”  But we don’t refer to Dutch people as “Dutches”.  We just call them Dutch.

To make it more confusing, the country of The Netherlands is commonly referred to as Holland, which is the unofficial name and generic for the country, because it only refers to the major part of a territory.  It’s like referring to Great Britain as England, though Great Britain is also made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

It is also loosely similar to the way our country is the United States of America, yet our nation is often referred to as simply “America”.  Though Central Americans and South Americans are not referred to as “Americans” like we are.

In closing, anything Danish is referring to something from the nation of Denmark, and has nothing to do with anything Dutch. 

Dutch recap:

The Dutch an ethnic group of people who have a home base in The Netherlands (which is also generically called Holland) and have nothing to do with the Danish people of Denmark.

You officially learned something today.  That’s one more wrinkle in your brain.  Oh, and, you’re welcome.

This painting was done by some famous Dutch guy

The Jewish Influence on American Entertainment

As we all know, the Jewish race has been persecuted throughout history. And that it is a complete understatement. While that is not news to anyone, there is an amazing fact that peripherally I always knew, but it wasn’t until this week it become obvious. An earth-shaking discovery like the ending of The Sixth Sense.

The discovery is that there was a major redemption for the Jewish people once they reached America. A people group that for so long had been cursed by the rest of the world now suddenly started to become famous and funny. The bottom line: It is dang near impossible to find a sitcom without a Jew.

Sure, there are the obvious Jewish sitcoms like Seinfeld and Friends. But then you find out that Bob Saget is Jewish and suddenly the head of the Full House-hold is not simply an all-American guy. And while so much emphasis was placed on how Italian that Tony Danza was on “Who’s the Boss?”, no one noticed the whole time that Judith “Light” Licht (“Angela Bower”) was Jewish. And all those Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons watching Saved by the Bell, sure enough both Jessie and Screech turned out to be Jewish too.

Below is a “tip of the iceberg” list of successful sitcoms and their Jewish member(s):

Growing Pains: Jeremy Miller (Ben Seaver)
Friends: Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Paul Rudd (Mike, Phoebe’s husband)
Mad About You: Paul Reiser, Helen Hunt
Seinfeld: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfess
Taxi: Andy Kauffman, Judd Hirsch
Roseanne: Roseanne Barr, Sara Gilbert
Happy Days: Henry Winkler (The Fonz)
Everybody Loves Raymond: Doris Roberts, Brad “Garrett” Gerstenfeld
Three’s Company: Norman Fell (Mr. Roper)
Blossom: Mayim Bialik
Scrubs: Zack Braff
King of Queens: Jerry Stiller
Cheers: Rhea Pelman (Carla Tortelli)
All in the Family: Rob Reiner (Meathead)
The Wonder Years: Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold), Josh Saviano (Paul Pfeiffer)
The Cosby Show: Lisa Bonnet

Step By Step: Stacy Keenan

The Golden Girls: Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty

The Three Stooges: all of them

So I did manage to find a few exceptions. I felt proud of myself for that accomplishment. Until I realized who was the executive producer of those shows:

Step by Step, Family Matters: Miller-Boyett (consisting of Thomas L. Miller, who was Jewish)
The Simpsons: James L. Brooks (Jewish)
The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island: Sherman Schwartz (Jewish)

In fact, the more I researched, the more I realized that basically all the original pioneer studios of Hollywood were started by Jewish people: Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn, and Universal MGM. So even if you don’t see a Jewish person on the screen, there is one behind the scenes, pulling the strings. Once I realized that the American sitcom is consumed by Jewish people, I basically just accepted the fact that Jews are the backbone to American entertainment as we know it:

Jerry Springer, Barbara Walters, Howie Mandel, Chelsea Handler, Joan Rivers, Bill Mayer, Jon Stewart, Mel Blanc, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green, Paula Abdul, Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Jon Lovitz, Max Weinberg, Paul Shaffer, Paul Reuben (Pee Wee Herman), Natalie Portman, David Copperfield, Mel Brooks, Robert Downey, Jr., Bette Midler, Lenny Kravitz (who ironically married Lisa Bonet, who is also half Jewish, half African-American), Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Pink, Billy Joel, Lisa Loeb, Harry Connick, Jr., Sasha Baron Coen (“Borat”), Harold Ramis (the nerdy Ghostbuster), Jon Lovitz, Jack Black, Billy Crystal, Rachel Bilson, Barbara Streisand, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Kirk Douglas, Rick Moranis, Zac Effron, Jeremy Piven, Seth Green, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Billy Joel, Joaquin Phoenix, Elizabeth Taylor, Jake Gyllenhaul, Mandy Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Ben Stiller, Jeff Goldbloom, Rodney Dangerfield, Sammy Davis, Jr., Woody Allen, Jack Albertson (Grandpa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Mel Blanc, Gilbert Gottfried, Pete Yorn, Kiss members Gene Simmons (Chaim Wetz) and Paul Stanley (Stanley Eisen), the 4 main organizers of the original Woodstock, the man who owned the farm for Woodstock, the producer and sound mixer for Woodstock, Mark Zuckerberg (the creator of facebook), George Burns, Neil Diamond, and Stephen Speilberg.

Not to mention the most relevant movie director/writer/producer of this decade, Judd Apatow, who is responsible for Freaks and Geeks, Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, Superbad, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, and Pineapple Express. Which sky-rocketed the careers of Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, and Seth Rogan, who are all Jewish.

So what? A lot of Jewish people work in entertainment.

But  Jews make up only 1.7% of the US population. There’s not that sort of massive representation from any other minority (or majority, for that matter). Asians make up 4.4% of the country’s population. How many Asian-American actors can you name? Compare that to Jewish actors.

It’s a given that if a person is successful in the American entertainment industry, then that person is beating the odds. In a market that’s so hard to crack, with such a high pay-off for those who do, Jewish people are the most successful.

I have a theory. The Bible has a reoccurring theme that the Jews are God’s chosen people. Jesus was born as a Jew. He preached to the Jews before he preached to any other people group. His followers and disciples did the same thing after Jesus died, came back and ascended to Heaven. The Bible also talks about the Jews being given a second chance to believe in Jesus at the end of the world.

America is basically the only country I know of that has openly accepted the Jews. We took them in from whatever country they were escaping from at the time, whether it was Germany, Russia, Poland, and gave them a new start. We knew, to some degree, what it was like to be religiously persecuted and that’s why we escaped the forced religion of England. We accepted the Jewish people when throughout the history of the world, no one else really has.

Definitely I realize that the economy is shaky and the future is unclear, but America is still the most powerful and most influential country in the world. This country has been blessed with not only abundant natural resources (which ultimately have a whole lot to do with a country’s economy) but also a general mindset of its people to work together and get the job done.

While I do believe a lot of that blessing is because, as a whole, we have always been a Christian nation, I can’t deny the importance in the role we play in regards to God’s chosen people. There are currently 5,393,000 Jews living in Israel, which is their homeland. And there are currently 5,275,000 Jews living in the United States. I did the math: We only have 118,000 less Jews living here than live in Israel. And because those are educated estimates, it’s very possible there are actually more Jews living in America than in Israel. In a way, it’s like America is becoming another Israel. (For the record, France has the 3rd largest number of Jews with just 490,00. So it’s apparent, the majority of Jewish people live Israel and America.)

Obviously God has blessed the Jewish people in America, in so many ways. And obviously God has blessed America in so many ways. Is that a coincidence? I have a tendency to over-think things, but really, what are the chances?